It’s a rainy day.
One of those days I function best under the covers with a glass of hot Milo in one hand, a book in the other.
But times are not what I’d like them to be – rather; they are what they are.
So I do the routine. And reluctantly; get out of the house.
I’m on a bus. Headed to the fourth meeting in 24 hours.
I have my earphones on. I’m listening to Ibiyemi.
As is usual, my mind is all over the place. And before I realize it, I have removed my earphones. My mind has gone into one those places where music is poison, not panacea.
Sounds within the bus begin to filter into my consciousness. Beside me, a couple are discussing. He’s trying to convince her that a woman is incomplete without a man’s love. She says a woman who’s waiting for a man’s attention to validate her will wait forever.
He backtracks. He says that’s not what he meant. He says he’s simply talking in a romantic capacity. He says it’s his belief that men were created for women and vice versa. That a man cannot reach maximum capacity without a woman’s influence and vice versa. He begins to postulate some Maxwell/Machiavelli/Trubetovsky theories – which actually intrigues me.
I haven’t listened to a conversation like that since my university days. I am intrigued in spite of me.
Before I know it, I find myself following the conversation quite closely.
What interests me most is the girl’s reactions. There’s a shine in her eyes. She’s smiling – she’s practically dancing on her seat. She flips her weave. Rolls her eyes coquettishly. Touches his elbow. His wrist. His shoulder.
She listens patiently, waiting for him to get his point in before coming up with hers. She acknowledges EVERY PART of his point, and then agrees/disagrees with it as she feels.
For a bit, I wonder if she’s one of those people who like to argue for the sake of it.
And then it hits me. It’s not the argument. Not in the least.
It’s the guy.
That hits me like a jab between the eyes.
It’s the guy!
With that realization comes a feeling of resentment. And some anger.
I feel that way because it’s obvious the guy’s oblivious to her display. He’s busy trying to make her see his point – make her see his point so she can be more susceptible to his wiles. But the battle’s already won.
He is missing the point. Because he’s looking for signs that are not there.
He’s looking for typical signs.
I sit on both my hands and bite my tongue to resist shouting at him; What is more important; winning the argument or winning the girl?
But I bite my tongue harder. And listen to the byplay. And hope; against all hope that the argument does not get personal.
Hope that he doesn’t annoy her. Such that she starts to see a particular part of him that will mar what she’s liked from the start.
And then he turns to me. “Bros, I’d like to ask your opinion about something.”
I laugh hysterically.
I cannot control the urge. Laughter spills out of me like a high-pressure pipe suddenly bursting. He draws back, offense settling on his features like a curtain.
“Excuse me,” he mutters. And turns towards his conquest.
I lean towards him. “Oga calm down,” I whisper in conspiratory tones. “Is she your girlfriend?”
Offense dissipates; turns into joyful hope. “Not yet, but I’m hoping she would say yes when I ask her.”
I resist pulling his ear and instead punch his arm. “So what is the argument about? What are you trying to prove? She’s all but said yes – don’t you know haranguing her is only going to make her tired of you in a hurry?”
He looks startled. Obviously, that never occurred to him.
“She doesn’t have to always agree with you. She has a mind of her own, and she’s given you space in it. Don’t chase yourself out o. Soft pedal.”
He smiles. He gets it.
He turns away. “Thanks, boss.”
I plug in my earphones again, feeling like a veteran of many wars. The weight of a particular battle rests heavy on my heart; a battle too often fought, too many times lost. I trudge up the slippery slope, trying to find balance. Wade through rivers and forests to find plains. Endure the valley to find the mountains on either side.
I have been there. And that puts me in a place where I can share from.
That’s some consolation; I think.
The couple beside me are whispering now. She giggles, and I cannot help the smile that appears on my face. They’re holding hands – and by the time I get off the bus and into the rain again; her head is on his shoulder.
The rain reminds me that I’d rather be at home. Under the covers.
With steaming cup of Milo in one hand, a book in the other.
But there’s a warmth in a formerly-frozen region of my heart – a warmth Milo could not have put there. A warmth put there by a man willing to listen and a woman willing to try.
Maybe tomorrow, hot Milo would help.
But today, this is just fine.
I’m just fine.